I sat in the second carriage as usual. I was stuck at page 239. Just like the chaplain felt himself surrounded by the dense, overwhelming fogs of possibilities in which he could perceive no glimmer of light, I could hope for nothing better. The lights flickered in the carriage. I wanted to shout out, break away from this rut that I was stuck in. I couldn’t. As my eyes flitted from one face to another, I saw how everyone avoided the other’s glance. They had their eyes glued on the newspaper, the glossy magazines, and the ads on the carriage panels or just had that glazed expression looking out to nothing and everything. I knew I couldn’t get out even if I wanted to. The next stop wasn’t until three more minutes. I didn’t want to get off yet though. I needed some more time in this carriage with all these people who cared zilch about my life. I should turn this page over. Over to 240. I couldn’t. I was rooted to that phrase, “no glimmer of light”. The chaplain should consider carrying a torch. Yet, I knew that would be of no use. The battery would drain out, just like his soul. He’d be left to find his way through the impenetrable darkness. I guess I’ll have to rely on the world to show me the glimmer of light.
Men in suits bustled out with their briefcase and the mandatory City A.M. They were all just faces, faces you’d never see, faces you’d never remember.
Mind the gap.
Mind the closing doors. This train is ready to depart.
Keep clear of the closing doors.
Everyone packed themselves in like a can of sardines, in the last minute rush. Stood next to me was this man, holding the same book as me. He was certainly not on page 239. He had gone past it, moved on. I wanted to ask how he’d done so. Had he not struck the same chord as me? The chaplain’s plight was probably of no consequence to him. Even I felt not much for the chaplain. It was just those words. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life like a passenger stuck in a carriage with faceless people. I needed fresh air. I wanted the rays of sun to glisten off my eyes. I wanted to be like that kite set loose. What I didn’t want was to be like the chaplain being suffocated by all the possibilities that gave him no hope for light.
Maybe, if I had my eyes open I could see the light. Do I dare? Was I ready to face another disappointment?
The next station is Baron’s Court.
I knew I should get off here. As the train came to a halt, I saw that we were no longer in the tunnel. My eyes hurt a little. Then I became just like those suited men rushing past everybody else into what was natural. It was much cooler outside. I had never been Baron’s Court. Why did I get off? As I walked out of the station, I had no idea about where to go. I was glad of one thing though. The book was closed and I knew I’d be on page 240 the next time I’d open it.
Ps: References made to Joseph Keller’s Catch-22.
Perched on the window sill, I could see out onto the vast old world that lay before me. It wasn’t as green as it appeared under the bright sunlight. There wasn’t any movement yet. But, I knew that it was only a matter of minutes until I’d see old Mr.Griffiths taking Dana for her usual morning run. This was going to be another one of those ordinary days. I had stopped hoping to see Pegasus flying towards me or the Dryads lingering around the garden.
How long has it been? 3 years, maybe 4. There was finally an end to the daily debates with my father. Every day, he had a new theory on how the Ancient Greeks merely kept their world separate from ours. Clearly, he was no fool. He knew the people had died off and you could sense the explicit hint of discontent with the ‘modernisation’. He yearned for the day when it would be easy to unlock those ancient mysteries. So, there I was being brought up by a man whose first priority was bringing over as many people as he could to his line of thinking. I have to say I was his best disciple. I didn’t lose faith in him even during my teen years. Stuck by him as best as I could. I had hoped that one day he would achieve what he’d dreamt for. I knew it, as the years went by he lost faith in himself. He didn’t talk so much. He maintained our ritual, a new idea every day. He quit teaching. Though, I still knew that he hadn’t given up. He began sculpting things all around the house, the garden, and the woodlands. I found a new image every day. For any stranger walking through the woods, at first glance you’d think they were the real deal. It was a joy to see these apparitions every time I escaped into our woods.
I still walked into the woods, hoping to find a new sculpture. I knew he was gone. I knew there wasn’t anyone who’d keep my old life afloat. I just hoped. It was quite cold sitting up here; the sun would shine bright soon. Mr.Griffiths would be here soon, just like he has done for the past eighteen years. I knew he wasn’t just taking Dana out for a walk. Initially, he was just keeping my father company. Now, he was just keeping an eye on his late friend’s daughter. I appreciated it. This kept me in touch with reality. I knew that if Mr.Griffiths walked across the gate into our woodland, today was going to be normal. There won’t be any more of those moments where I see the sculptures being well…not so sculpture-like. Sitting out here was a new ritual. I had to begin my day like this. I knew I’d hear Dana’s barks any time now. After that I can get outside. Mr.Griffiths said he’ll be back today. The garden patch really suffered when he wasn’t around.
I sat on the sill all throughout the new dawn. Mr.Griffiths wasn’t coming by today. It wasn’t going to be an ordinary day. I had hoped it would. The sun was coming out. I could see the rays glistening off the statue of the Naiads. It was time. I closed the windows. Another day. Spent inside.